|If your topstitching isn't good, what's the point?|
9. On the other hand, if no one is going to see "that", don't worry about it. (Perfectionism kills. Have you never heard that? It's true; look it up.) The seams in the lining of your bag are a mess? Who's going to see, unless someone picks open your bag to harvest the fabric? If it's hidden inside or along a bottom corner that's the same colour as the fabric and you've just sewn this amazing curve, take a chill pill and let it be.
8. Pin, baste, sew, press. If something appears to be tricky, I highly recommend following this advice. It may well avoid taking out the seam ripper later. And of course, the pressing part is integral to getting crisp, clean lines on seams. (Pressing before sewing also makes things easier to sew up in the first place.)
7. Measure twice and cut once... and have the patience to cut your fabric accurately or you'll be screwed from the start. I must admit that there have been times when I'm pretty sure I've followed that advice to a "T" and yet it's still not right! I am definitely old school in the sense of appreciating having pattern pieces to cut from. The last pattern I used had over twenty pieces that were just given as "measurements". Yes, I know we can measure our own rectangles, but when you have that many, it is an excruciatingly slow process to think about how to lay out your fabric and keep track of what edge goes with what grain... something that this particular pattern failed to mention at all!
6. Tape is your friend... use masking tape to mark your topstitching or use as a seam guide on your sewing machine. Use transparent tape to keep your fading ink from disappearing too fast! Personally, I have yet to try this, but it sounds like a great tip to keep in my back pocket for whenever it's needed.
5. Clip your curved areas — especially if you're going to topstitch around them! When I first read this one, I thought yeah, that's a no-brainer. But sometimes we need to be reminded about the obvious. In this case, we're talking about a process that's a finishing touch (i.e., topstitching), so it's important that it be done well. Otherwise, why bother? But the part about clipping curves is important, even if you're not going to topstitch. A curved seam that's clipped underneath will lie so much nicer than one that isn't.
4. When sewing together two fabrics of unequal weight, put the thinner stuff on the bottom against the feed dogs. When I first discovered this, I thought, why didn't someone tell me this long before?? Saves on a lot of frustration.
3. Don't sew over your pins! This one was an eye-opener, because long ago, I had been told that if you pin perpendicular to your sewing line, your machine will magically avoid the pins and you can therefore sew right over them! Turns out sewing machines may not have a magical way of avoiding pins after all. Now, whenever I approached a pin, I would slow down considerably. But apparently even so, if the needle nicks the pin, it's still potentially damaging to the needle. And in extreme cases, breaks to either pin or needle could cause physical damage to the operator. Long story short, don't sew over your pins.
2. When in doubt, change the needle (every 8 hours!). In conjunction with the previous tip, when's the last time you changed out your needle? I must admit to being very bad about this... I tend to go a lot longer with a needle than I should, but to be honest, it's because I have a hard time keeping track of how many hours I've run on one of them. In general, I'm not sewing "big projects" where I might feel compelled to change my needle after each one. But you know, when I do change it out — what a difference!
1. Always cut thread on the diagonal when threading your sewing machine. Of course, I should have just consulted my fisherman hubby on this one. With my eyes not being what they used to be and even with the help of reading glasses, I was having a horrible time threading my machine until I saw this tip. It's been clear sailing ever since! This tip is at the top of my list because of the time it has saved me.
Now what about you? What's your favourite sewing tip? Come on — I challenge you to throw something at me that I haven't heard!